Digital Print Week Recap

Digital print paves its way in the packaging and textiles market thanks to short runs, customization, and the ability to target your audience.

Two hundred-plus print shops, manufacturers, brand owners and specialists, and converters in the packaging and textile industries attended the Digital Print for Packaging and Digital Textile Printing conferences in Decatur, Georgia, to talk digital print drivers, applications, and technologies in the growing market.

Sean Smyth, Smithers Pira, kicked off the two-day Digital Print for Packaging event by telling the audience that digital packaging is growing, and corrugated packaging is exploding due to the technologies available today. “Reliability and image quality techniques in single-pass inkjet are now a given after drupa,” he said. And economic short runs, security, and emotional engagement are the biggest drivers for digital print for packaging today.

Debbie Thorp, business development director, Global Inkjet Systems agreed with Smyth, saying, “Digital print is transitioning from the short-run argument to production capability… Inkjet print in packaging is a market of pioneers rather than mainstream, but momentum is increasing because of technology and software advancement.”

‘The Brand Imperative’
In one of the most talked-about panels at the show, Tom Cooper, R+D manager, Digital Printing, Westrock, moderated the digital print debate for brands with Fran Biderman-Gross, CEO and president, Advantages; David France, packaging research fellow, ConAgra Foods; and Todd Fayne, manager, Global Packaging Laboratory, PepsiCo. The discussion started off strong with Cooper telling the audience “color is everything,” and Biderman-Gross boldly sharing that “brands need to be forgiving with color.”

Top takeaways from the differing panel members:
“Digital print allows for creating a custom experience in the short run for a wide variety of people. It’s all about personalization. There’s excitement with digital print. You need to change your mindset and be open to it. … Engage your customers and start with why: Measure the data and deliver ROI.” – Biderman-Gross

“We’re acquiring smaller brands that grew because they were willing to take a risk with digital print. … It comes down to speed and square inches when considering moving into digital print for packaging.” – France

“We don’t need to be noticed. We dominate the shelf. We’re not going to take the risk in the R+D packaging sector. … Momentum and getting our internal people to buy in is a big issue. – Fayne

Top Quotes from Digital Print for Packaging
“With digital print you can take what’s on your website and drop it in your packaging, vehicle wraps, and P-O-P display graphics. … Tell your clients to take their brand local and differentiate to grab attention.” – Chris Knecht, commercial lead and product development manager, Georgia-Pacific Corrugated

“Consumer value trinity: They need it, they prefer it, or there’s an emotional connection. Digital print can address all three.” – Chuck Pemble, VP business development, Datalase

“$1.7 trillion in-store sales are influenced by digital media. Integrate digital and traditional for your print shop to be successful. … Don’t just be a vendor, be a partner.” – Aaron Mallory, account executive, brand management solutions, Esko

“Use your ‘A’ players. Start small, make a bunch of mistakes, and learn from them so you can be successful.” – Mark Abramson, CEO, PrintForm

“Digital print is an enabler. It’s about where you want to go with it.” – G. Scott Wood, senior product manager, EFI

“The new consumer wants choices (variety based on their mood or an event); to feel special (become an extension of the brand); and seeks unique experiences.” – Scott Gilbert, director of innovation and commercialization, Phototype

“Digital print for packaging is worth $13.2 billion in 2017 and will climb to $23.2 billion in 2020.” –Smithers Pira

Digital Textile Printing
The last two days of the digital print-focused week centered on the movement toward digital texting printing, from fast fashion to tradeshow banners. Discussed growth drivers for the market include: digital short-run economics; design flexibility; customization; color consistency; and a streamlined design process.

Marci Kinter, VP, government and business information, SGIA, started the day off strong sharing notes on sustainability and textiles.

Top takeaways:

“Sustainability is not just the product going out the door; it’s the entire manufacturing process: people, profit, planet.”

“Energy usage, and greenhouse gas emissions impact sustainability. Shipping with digital textile printing is easier, cheaper, and greener.”

“The new wave is upcycling. You take your textile product to a company that turns it into something new and usable.”

Top Quotes from Digital Textile Printing
“The fastest growing applications in the market today are textiles for garment, textiles for interior décor, and packaging.” – Abramson quoting FESPA

Soft signage is a differentiator. It’s a new application and product offering, but only one in 15 digital graphic printers are in the soft signage market.” – Mike Wozny, senior product manager, EFI

“Durability, color fastness, meeting brand specifications and applications are essential to driving market growth.” – David Clark, inkjet business development, Huntsman.

Follow Editor-in-Chief Adrienne Palmer on Twitter for live updates from events around the globe.

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